Advice for Employers and Recruiters

What challenges does the godfather of recruiting have for employers hiring at scale? with Gerry Crispin of CareerXroads.

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
October 10, 2022

Welcome back to another episode of the High Volume Hiring Podcast, the podcast that features news tips, case studies, and interviews with the world’s leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high-volume hiring. In this week’s episode, host Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter’s Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, interviews Gerry Crispin, the Principal and Co-Founder of CareerXroads. CareerXroads is known for its peer-to-peer meetings during which corporate staffing leaders can gather together to share, compare, and innovate hiring practices.

Recently, CareerXroads formed a similar community for talent solution vendors, with College Recruiter as one of the founding members. What has started as a small community of 15 members is on its way to having 30 members by the end of the year!

High Volume Hiring Podcast

Gerry shares what initially brought him into recruiting and the eventual creation of CareerXroads. He lays out some of the major changes that have occurred over the last 20 years in the recruitment marketing space but, argues that not much has changed. The public perception of recruiting has remained pretty much the same over that time. He challenges recruiters to step out of the box by looking for ways to influence change in hiring practices, instead of focusing solely on filling an opening. Organizations hiring at scale can influence change by focusing on expanding the existing labor pool and investing in ways to retain employees.

You can listen to the full episode here:

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Steven Rothberg: Welcome to the High Volume Hiring Podcast. I’m Steven Rothberg, the founder of College Recruiter Job search site at College Recruiter. We believe that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. This podcast features news tips, case studies, and interviews with the world’s leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high volume hiring. Thanks for joining us. Today’s guest is Jerry Crispen of Career Crossroads, who can best be described as a lifelong student of hiring, lover of fine wine and maker of probably the world’s best Sunday sauce. Jerry, welcome to the show,

Gerry Crispin: . Well, thank you. I appreciate that. That’s, that’s one of my best introductions. I love it. .

Steven Rothberg: And, and for the record, I’ve never had your Sunday sauce, but I’ve seen it through Zoom, so

Gerry Crispin: There you go. Well,

Steven Rothberg: We, we,

Gerry Crispin: Something to look forward to.

Steven Rothberg: Exactly. Yeah. So we have a, we have a bucket list, and that’s, I guess, should be on mine. So, um, before we get into sort of the real meat of the conversation, so that, um, the, the, the two or three people in the world of recruiting who might not know you personally, um, tell us a little bit about how you got into recruiting some of the jobs you’ve had over the years, and then also the work that you do today with Career

Gerry Crispin: Crossroads . You don’t have enough time for that. I, so this is like my 53rd year in recruiting. I became enamored, so,

Steven Rothberg: So you get 53 seconds,

Gerry Crispin: . Yeah, I know. I was gonna say, you know, when I went to college, uh, I got an engineering degree and then began studying, uh, industrial organizational behavior in graduate school, which I spent six hours, six years doing. And while I was doing that in order to, in order to pay for food and stuff, I was, um, the associate Director of career services at Stevens Institute of Technology. And I became fascinated by this whole, this whole journey of how one recruits and what a what, you know, a career looks like and all of those kinds of things. And really, that started the journey. I, I became fascinated by it. I got most of my, my PhD went to work for Johnson and Johnson for 10 years, was a loose cannon there for doing an awful lot of things. , uh, have too many stories to tell.

Gerry Crispin: Um, worked for another career in, in, in effect recruitment marketing. In those days, there, there were recruitment agencies, . Mm-hmm. one, they still are, but they, they call themselves different things now. And, uh, for 10 years, uh, built a, um, a division, if you will, on the East Coast for, uh, shaker advertising. And then, and then started getting fascinated by this thing called, uh, internet and began writing books about that you were in, uh mm-hmm. actually before very long, uh, about what was happening in terms of emerging technology from about 95 through about 2004, and then pivoted. So those books were very successful. I was a book seller, . Yeah. And you were,

Steven Rothberg: You were the Stephen King of recruiting

Gerry Crispin: Books . Yes. That did, you know, people did get irritated and frightened by what I would write about them for sure. So yes, it was the Stephen King, is that really good way of putting it. And then, you know, I got tired of consulting and doing all that kind of stuff, and I realized, I realized, uh, it for career crossroads that people wanted to talk to each other, that our, you know, that our peers who were, who were recruiting, they, they, everything was so moving so fast and so confusing in terms of how to, how to recruit digitally, if you will, that and with technology that they wanted to talk to each other in real time and, and in an environment in which, you know, they wouldn’t be outed for, you know, being screwed up, but not doing it as well as they Yeah. They, they would like people to, to believe.

Gerry Crispin: And, and so that started career Crossroads, and it really was bringing together small groups of talent acquisition leaders to share amongst themselves quietly what was keeping them up at night, and to listen to each other’s stories, if you will, about what they shared in, in trying solutions mm-hmm. , and hopefully with one of those solutions being inspiring them to do something, uh, to move forward. And so, so I learned quickly to finish this off over the last 20 some odd years, that there’s a, there is a group of people who are passionate about recruiting, compelled to improve what they do, um, have critical thinking skills, so can challenge one another in a way that’s positive and are willing to share unconditionally. Mm. And, and so my challenge for the last 22 years has been identifying who those people are, encouraging them or giving them the experience of engaging one another under those kinds of conditions and, and kind of building a community around that of people who care about each other enough to help each other be successful. And so that’s kind of been what sustained me in my later years and keeps me in the game. It really, from that perspective.

Steven Rothberg: Very cool. So one of, of the, one of the things that’s always fascinated me about the group of people in this community at, at career Crossroads on, on the employer side, is that that supportive, that in, in my view, non-judgemental. It’s like, Thank you for sharing the problem with us. Let’s work together to solve it. Even if it doesn’t help me personally or my organization, I want to help you solve that problem because I want this whole world to be better. Yeah. There’s, there just seems to be, uh, um, a real passion around that. I, I know I’ve had the good pleasure of knowing a number of people in that colloquium. Mm-hmm. , the only thing that any of them has ever shared with me about what goes on behind those doors is whether they had a glass of wine or enjoyed dinner as much as you did . And so the confidentiality is critical, and I’ve just, I’ve never heard anyone directly say anything to me or, or indirectly like that. It sort of like, Oh yeah, you didn’t hear it, but so and so was blabbing about blah, blah, blah. And, and that’s unusual. I mean, these, these are people who know a lot of people and they’re very well connected. Um, so, you know, you, you guys have done a, a really good job of sort of selecting the people and I think instilling a culture, uh, in that, I think it’s a

Gerry Crispin: Continuous challenge though. And I do think that, that everybody including yourself, builds pieces of that. Yeah. You know, in their own kind of thing, even though their model isn’t specifically that. So my model is specifically building community, but, but I do think that the tech, the, the, the approach that you have as a leader in your company and how you treat your clients lends to the same kind of thing. It’s just that you don’t focus in on the events that, that bring them together to do that, to, to actually share amongst each other as opposed to, you know, some other aspect of that event. You know, curating content specifically mm-hmm. , I, I do think that there’s a future for how companies, because of this pandemic, et cetera, I do think this idea of community is becoming more, um, is emerging more as a critical component for what people want in their work life.

Steven Rothberg: Yeah.

Gerry Crispin: Whereas in the past, they would compartmentalize and say, Eh, I’m not gonna get that out of my job, so screw it. I’ll just go to work, keep my head down, come home, and then try to build community with my family and my friends and my community, if you will. Um, yeah. And, and I think that when you spend eight hours or 10 hours a day, four or five days, maybe even six days a week, uh, you know, to, to make a living these days, and both spouses, if you will, are doing that mm-hmm. , um, people are starting to rethink that and say, That’s, that’s a third of my life. Why, why am I ignoring the opportunity to have something that’s important to me? Yeah. And so I think young people particularly are asking more good questions about those issues as they start their career. And I think, I think as folks mature, they’re starting to learn the same thing. They’re starting to ask themselves like, Why am I going from this job to the next job with the same pain in the ass work? And, and people that I have to deal with? I really want to find a place where I care about the people that I’m with in a, in a whole different

Steven Rothberg: Way. Yeah. And, and, and I agree with you. I think the pandemic has had a lot to do with it, that the last couple years we’ve all sort of reevaluated what’s really important in life. And, and having that corner office, or the fancy job title or whatever is, there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a lot more to life than that. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about, about career crossroads for, for people who don’t know, peer to peer invitation only meetings, just corporate staffing leaders. So you don’t have vendors like College Recruiter in the room. Although about a year ago, um, you launched the Talent Solutions Community and College recruiter is one of the, um, what, 15 or so starting members? They’re like a couple of dozen now.

Gerry Crispin: 21 now. Yeah,

Steven Rothberg: 21 now. Okay. And, you know, um, so close, um, you know, 21,

Gerry Crispin: We’ll, we’ll get to 30 by the end of the year.

Steven Rothberg: . There you go. Okay. So two and a half, we’ll call, we’ll, two and a half dozen. We’ll, real round up. And, you know, and, and, and again, so that the, the, the, the meetings, the, the members that come together are sharing information, asking for assistance, sometimes sharing, you know, tips about different tools they’re using, et cetera. And I just imagine the conversations, those meetings must be sometimes really mundane, but probably mostly really fascinating.

Gerry Crispin: I, I think, yeah, they’re, they’re run by their, by themselves. I mean, we, we basically tee up an environment which people engage. We just, in fact, I just finished one on, on branding and we had it. So we, we’ve cha we’ve, we’ve evolved. So we’ve got a little bit of a guest now where we, we try to bring somebody in who’s got some data and information that makes, makes good sense. And then primarily among, again, among just the employer TA leaders, there’s an open sharing of something that they’ve saw either solved recently or are really kind of proud of trying that it seems to be collecting some data that’s working on whatever it is, sourcing, branding, analytics, whatever, whatever the theme might be. And then you get some pretty pointed discussions from the, you know, the peanut gallery as to how the hell did you do that?

Gerry Crispin: How did you, you convince your leaders to invest that, that amount of money in doing that? Or why are you spending more money that’s going bad? Yeah. On, on that. So we, we hear some interesting kinds of things and it’s little things that, you know, for the digital world, cuz we’ve been doing it mostly now digitally. Right. We’re going back to some face to face. We used to basically require no more than 40 to 45 people hosted by one of our members for a day and a half. And now we’re doing lots of one hour sessions, but, but we actually require everybody to be seen. It’s like, don’t come if you can’t be seen. So if you’re telling me that, you know, you just got up and you, you don’t think you look good or whatever, get over it. Um, but I wanna see an audience, uh, that is engaged, energized, and, and either, you know, listening to one another Yeah. As opposed to multitasking behind the scene behind a wall in which you can’t be seen. So those are li those are little things that, you know, force the, the intensity of people engaging one another.

Steven Rothberg: We’ll be back right after this break.

Steven Rothberg: Welcome

Steven Rothberg: Back to the high volume hiring podcast.

Steven Rothberg: Just, just as an aside, I just, I just talked to a young adult who interned at a company this summer and is kind of getting close to the end of it. And she’s like, I will never ever go to work for that company ever again. And I’m gonna tell all of my younger classmates, siblings, cousins, everybody don’t have anything to do with them. It all, the work was remote, which given Covid and the nature of the work, that wasn’t really an issue. But what was an issue was that every day they would have a, a stand up call on Zoom, kind of make sure everybody’s on the same page. Mm-hmm. And this is what we need to accomplish today. Great. Good communication, good mentoring, good coaching. Nobody had their cameras on. She has never seen her boss

Gerry Crispin:

Steven Rothberg: And she’s had a call every day with him for a couple of months. She has no idea. And it’s just, it’s so impersonal. The word that she used to describe the, it was that she feels like a drone and that’s not, that’s just not a, a good hiring press. Anyway, so at, so career Crossroads launched in 96, if I’m not mistaken.

Gerry Crispin: Yes. I just came across the first talk I ever gave, uh, the slide deck for it. And, uh, it was nine, it was December, 1995. And it was right after that that we kind of created this thing called Career Crossroads and began engaging in putting together books about how emerging technology was going to, to change, uh, talent acquisition.

Steven Rothberg: Cool. So in the 26 years, what one or two things, what’s, what has changed in high volume hiring be from 1996 to 2022? Like one or one or two things that have like, that would really jump out you like, wow, this is so different now than that

Gerry Crispin: boy that there’s a, there’s a, um, I I I think of a normal distribution and, and so there’s, there, there should be some kind of center thing that changed, you know, 80% is changed. Sure. I would say 80% is not changed. Hmm. Um, I would say more like there’s, there’s 20% that has really impacted results and the 20% probably is, uh, the use of, of automated kinds of technologies that allow for us to expand our ability to reach and engage and communicate with larger numbers of people. So that’s the real positive of what’s been do what’s out there. You could say that for the recruiter, the recruiter has access now to so much more information. If you think about some of the technologies out there that allow for them to, to almost see the universe of all the people that they could possibly consider for a job. They, they almost have the capabilities, say there is the universe is 122,000 people who do this. Yeah. And, um, and, and 80% of them I have their contact information or I know how to get their contact information, um,

Steven Rothberg: As, as do all of my competitors for that talent too.

Gerry Crispin: As all Yes. For you all as all of your competitors. Right. Uh, so, so there’s that. The problem now is the human part of how do I build relationships with people? When do I start? I used to give a talk in which I said something like, uh, for every a hundred thousand kids entering high school, only 80% will graduate mm-hmm. in four years from high school. Mm-hmm. , I mean, there’s just this dropout rate, right? Yeah. And of, of the, of the 80% that graduate, only half of them will begin school, begin college. Right. So you’re now down to 40% of the hundred thousand and of the 40% that start only 20% or a little less, 18% will graduate from college in five years. In five years. Hmm. And of those 18%, only a hundred will be 112, I think will be mechanical engineers.

Gerry Crispin: And of the 112 mechanical engineers of the hundred thousand that started from high school. Yeah, yeah. Um, only 10 will be women. And of those 10, only five will remain a mechanical engineer after three years. Huh. So if I’m a recruiter, , the question is not, you know, how hard is this? The question is, when should I start talking to those five Hmm. High school, college, when in college Cetera, cetera, etcetera. So the issue is, is broader than I’ve got an opening, I need to fill it. How many people are available to fill this job? The question is, how do I influence change so that there’s more women, more mechanical engineers, or more percentage of women, more mechanical engineers if that’s what we need. And obviously developers is the hot thing now and nurses is the hot thing now. So we’re, so people are thinking not just how do I hire, uh, a nurse, but how do we make nursing a more attractive career or, or change nursing as a career to be more attractive and more, more satisfying for the people who are in it.

Gerry Crispin: Same with teachers, same with whatever. And and we don’t think holistically about recruiting in that way, and employers don’t think of investing beyond a very narrow scope of what are the tools that you need. And so when you start thinking about that, there’s so much more that we need to change in order to, in order to make this journey for all of us, uh, a much more satisfying one, a fairer one in terms of selection, if you will. So we still have, you know, enormous concern in the part of a candidate. If I survey a hundred candidates and ask them the what was the experience that you had in your last interview, set of interviews, you know, going to a company, how many of you would say that the outcome was in your opinion fair? And the answer is not gonna be good . So recruiters are not viewed much more highly than politicians.

Gerry Crispin: And so when you start thinking about what’s changed in 20 years, to go back to your question, there are things that have changed, but is the, has the perception of recruiting changed much only in little places where we’ve, you know, made an impact where we’ve influenced companies to be more transparent to the candidates about what we’re doing to them for them and with them. So you come up with better decisions. How many companies actually share their decision process with the candidates who didn’t get the job? Not many. So, so my point is I think there’s, there’s 10 to 20% that’s actually changed for the good and, and pretty much 80% that still remains, uh, to, to be changed to make this process our, our profession and our industry a a powerful motivator, if you will, uh, for the people who experience it.

Steven Rothberg: Yeah. And you know, just put it another way, if I can paraphrase. Part of what you were referring to is the organizations that are having a hard time finding available labor need to question what they can do to increase the amount of labor that’s available. If they could increase the size of that pie and you keep your slice the same percentage of that pie that you’re just gonna have a bigger slice at, at the end of the day, Yeah.

Gerry Crispin: We, we we should be increasing the pie for everyone. And if we did that collectively, it would be a lot better. But we’d also have to answer questions collectively about what is a living wage for high speed, for high speed, but not high speed, high volume jobs. Yeah. That may not require the same level of skills, uh, that mm-hmm. that we, you know, we invest in, you know, getting engineers, uh, you know, up and running right. Kind of thing. We need is we and, and are we looking at the potential and are we investing in the education of people to go beyond a bare minimum, but capable of learning much more? And, and then, and then investing in them at that base level and, and, and helping them learn to a point where they become capable of, of exhibit doing the job that we, we are looking for. So we, we have a lot of issues that we have to deal with. We, we accept in some high volume jobs, a hundred percent turnover. Oh, at least. Why do we do that? Why do

Steven Rothberg: We do that? Yeah,

Gerry Crispin: We could. Yeah. What if, what if we in, why aren’t we looking at ways to invest in retaining, uh, some of the high volume that we’ve got so it isn’t such high volume next time around and, and the, and the friction for, you know, people wanting that job who are fully capable to be fully engaged in that job, uh, would be different. And so the experience of the people who, who are customers of that high volume job, you know, is, is so much better from that perspective. So I find that, I find our ability to, you know, to do these kinds of things really going to be important in the next few years in how we, we put together, um, uh, the development of people as, as a motivator for, you know, hiring them. That I promise that we’re going to get you up to this level and this is how we’re going to lead you. That we’re gonna be more servant leaders that, that in your job, the bosses will come around and the only thing they’re gonna say is, How can I help you? Not just your boss, any boss in that company should be coming around in, in the, in the jobs that are critical, like that high volume jobs. And they should be just saying, How can I help you? What would make your job easier but make, would make your job better as opposed to, uh, observing you in a way that says, Oh, I’m catching you making a mistake. Let me, let me tell you what your mistake is.

Steven Rothberg: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And well be, before we wrap up, just one, one very quick story. One of, uh, my kids worked at a Dairy Queen when he was a teenager and, uh, worked there for flipping basically, well, he said, We don’t really cook here, we kind of assemble. Uh, and it was sort of, it, it, it more closely resembled the manufacturing facility than a restaurant his in, in his description of it. And he said that by the time he left, it was seven months after he started, almost to the day that he found out that the average employee, uh, hourly worker, not the management but management, but the cashiers, the people assembling the food, et cetera, they were there for an average of three months. So he outlasted them at, at seven months, he would like more than doubled what they usually see. And in that seven months he had three different managers. And, and that’s, they could really solve a lot of, of their recruiting problems by having better retention practices and, and, and treating people more than just as, as drones. Um, so Jerry, um, before we leave off, people wanna get a hold of you, learn more about career crossroads. What should they do? Well

Gerry Crispin: In Google, if you type in ge, r r y Crispen, C R I S P I n, uh, you will find me pretty, pretty easily if you go to a LinkedIn and you type in the same thing, you’ll find me very, very easily. And I think I have my phone number, my email and all that kind of stuff, Um mm-hmm. , you know, rather than Jerry, which is kind of my email address. But, um, but I think it’s easy to find me.

Steven Rothberg: Yeah, absolutely. You, you, you and I, whether it’s good or bad, we’re pretty transparent. Thank you so much for joining us today on the High Volume Hiring podcast. I’m your host, Stephen Rothberg of job search site college recruiter. Each year we help more than 12 million candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach me at The High Volume Hiring podcast is a co-production of Evergreen Podcasts and College Recruiter. Please subscribe for free on your favorite app. Review it five stars are always nice, and recommend it to a couple of people you know, who want to learn more about how best to hire at scale. Cheers.

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